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Drawing on Autism Screenshot 1



Alex Widdowson

Project PhD Candidate

Drawing on Autism is an investigation into the ethics of creating animated documentaries. As a non-autistic filmmaker representing an autistic participant, I needed to be mindful of the well-rehearsed and problematic tropes about autism. These tropes seem to say more about the desires and needs of neurotypical audiences than they do about their autistic subjects. Moreover, animation presents a distinct set of ethical dilemmas.

Drawing on Autism Screenshot 2

Without the mechanical indifference of a camera, the act of observation is substituted for representation. A mode of representation where the artist is responsible for how the documentary participant looks, where they are, and what they do. Through collaborative feedback I attempt to share these responsibilities with my participant, while making use of positional and textual reflexivity to equip my audiences so they can scrutinise my documentary interventions. 

Drawing on Autism Screenshot 3

Drawing on Autism was the winner of the Best Doctoral or Early Career Film of the Year at the 2021 Research in Film Awards from the AHRC and the Best AnimaDoc Blue Ribend Award (Student Jury) at the Rising of Lucitania AnimaDoc Film Festival 2022. The film has been shown in Official Selection at:

Rhode Island International Film Festival 2021 (Premier) | Raindance 2021 | Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival 2021 | New Orleans Film Festival 2021 | Berlin Festival of Animation 2021 | Spark Animation 2021 | Factual Animation Film Festival 2021 | Montreal International Animation Festival 2021| Big Cartoon Festival 2021 | London Short Film Festival 2022 | Fargo Film Festival 2022 | Cinemagic ON THE PULSE Short Film Festival 2022 | Edinburgh International Film Festival 2022

Directed, produced, edited, and animated by Alex Widdowson
Sound design and music by Vicky Freund
Additional animation by Ciara Kerr
Additional art direction by Dan Castro
Made with support from Autism through Cinema, Queen Mary University of London, and the Wellcome Trust.

Listen here to an interview with Alex on BBC Radio 3's Arts & Ideas Podcast reflecting on his Research in Film Award.

Read an interview with Alex about the making of the film in The New Current.


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